Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Abram (nee Lipschitz) Lipton c.1873-c.1910

One of the most annoying aspects of genealogy is the lack of data.  We lack records, basic information; even when we have them, we still discover that they are incomplete.  Even when there is a clear mandate for detail, or accuracy -- as with the United States Census -- tens of thousands of people are unaccounted for.  Often they are missing from a critical point in their history, and our inquiry.  Sometimes the information is there, but in a form that requires us to make assumptions and determinations -- with hardly any evidence to support them.

Just such a situation exists in the quest for the facts behind Lawrence Lipton.  Given his Jewish background and stated place of origin -- in Eastern Europe -- we immediately know that his family name was NOT Lipton ... no more than it is the name attached to my lineage.  Given that Jews in that period tended to Americanize their names, and that Lipton was most often the choice of those with the surname Lipshitz, it was no great surprise that this proved to be the case with Lawrence Lipton.  What was a surprise was the fact that his given name went through TWO transformations -- a birth name of Israel, then the unusual immigrant name of Isadore, and finally the literary name of Lawrence.

In a biographical sense, the information on Lawrence tell us all we need to know about and artist & author whose time has -- with the exception of anything that might be gleaned from "The Holy Barbarians" -- passed.  Published in 1959, "The Holy Barbarians" is credited for "making" Venice, California -- making it a place for those who would create the 60's anti-war generation to congregate.  "Barbarians" also contribute to the counterpoint basis for television sitcom "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" (1959-1963) and provided the descriptive beatnik role model for the character of "Maynard G. (Walter) Krebs".  Lawrence Lipton documented his viewpoint on his experience with the dawn of a transitional period in American history.  But what do we know of him, or his family?  What do we know of the history which shaped the man and bring us to the writer/educator, Pace University Professor emeritus, James Lipton?

Certainly not as much as you will learn in this blog.

Lawrence's father, Abram (nee Lipshitz) Lipton, was born in, Russian controlled, Eastern Europe in the late nineteenth century.  His surname, "Lipschitz", is one of the few exclusively Jewish surname known to exist; it pre-dates the vast majority of European surnames.  We can document it's usage in Slutz (Russian) in the mid-sixteenth century, and connect it to the Wahl (elected) who was the "Jewish King of Poland for a day" (or, vaguely short period in which he was appointed to serve as transitional King until a Christian Polish monarch could be chosen). 
The Livshitz line is noted for its intellectual scholars and Talmudic scholarship.  Arguably, the surname dates to the Roman era border regions in Western Europe -- certainly, the line is connected by marriage to the ancient Rabbinic line of The Rashi -- a Talmudic Scholar of the tenth century Frankish city of Worms (now in Germany).     

Short of locating his naturalization papers, we currently have no information as to Abram's actual date & place of birth, or his parents names -- hence there is a broken ancestral link to the Livshitz scholars, King Wahl and The Rashi -- who is claimed to have been a descendant of the Biblical King David.  However, the 1920 census has Rosa et al naturalized in 1904, based upon an arrival in 1898 -- while possible, it would raise questions as to the parentage of brother Harry (nee Pon Lipshitz) who was born on 10 Jun 1900, and Lawrence had been born in October 1898.  The 1898 date would therefore unlikely, and infer Abram arrived in the States after September 1899 {while we normally speak of nine month gestations, since Greek times, it has been known that ten month, or 305 day, gestations are not unusual}.  Of course, Harry could have been a preemie -- but, in that period, survival with a gestation of only six, or, at most seven,   months would seem to be rare.

Thus, given the Census data related to Naturalization, we can infer that Abram left his pregnant wife to immigrate to America -- and that this occurred some time at the end of 1898, or, possibly, the begging of 1900.  We also know {from the Lawrence biographies} that Abram died sometime before 1912.  The 1910 Census shows Rosa as the sole parent, but also has her "married" -- as opposed to widowed -- for 15 years; that indicates Abram died between 1910 & 1912. The question is: What did he die of, what was the cause of death?  A question to which currently have no answer -- nor do we actually need one.  The real issue is: When did Abram arrive?  And that is answered by a search for Lipshitz in the New York Passenger Lists for 1820-1957 -- where we discover that, on the 13th of August 1900, a 23 year old married merchant, named Abram Lipshitz, arrived on the "Bulgaria", which departed Hamburg on the 29th of July.  The ship's record also tells us that his passage was paid by an aunt -- Chane Meissl.  Assuming this is our Abram, he arrived too late to be recorded in the 1900 Federal Census.
As shown here, there were several possibilities in the search records.  One appears to be too young, the other, age 40, is married and is therefore a possibility .  Another is 28, single and lists a brother residing on Manhattan's West 52nd Street.  Finally, there is a married merchant who arrived on the 7th of April, lists a brother-in-law residing on Henry Street, and appears in the 1900 Census as a boarder (with the Epstein family) at 13 Hester Street. {One remaining possibility, Abrahan Lifschütz, who lists his father, arrived 15 Nov 1898, claims to be a widower from Slusk -- three discrepancies which make it impossible for him to be Harry's father .}  Her we have the data on the August arrival and alternate possibilities:
_(INSERT)1900Aug13 ShipList_Abram Lipshitz(Married)

As we can see from the following, the April arrival was born in November 1873, making him roughly four years older than the age which appears in records related to Lawrence's mother, Rosa (nee Lipshitz) Lipton.
_(INSERT)1900Mar25 ShipList_Abran Lipshits(Married)

We therefore have two choices for Abram Lipshitz -- one born in November 1873 and in the Census records; the other Abram who arrived in August -- therefore denying us further collaborative documentation.  As we can see with the detailed insert, each of the two possibilities  offers residential alternatives to the family actually being from LODZ.  It is possible that Rosa and the children were residing in Lodz, with her family, prior to departing to join Abram in America -- which logically fits a four year separation.
_(INSERT)Possible_Lipshitz Fathers

Apart from any information that might appear in the Naturalization Papers, there is very little more we can learn about Abram (nee Lipshitz) Lipton from the available paper trail.  Until is further data, we shall assume he was born in November 1873 and died some time in 1911-- though a death in, but prior to April, 1910 could not be ruled out; therefore, Rosa could have counted her as married for Census purposes.

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